We are a small, active congregation, which is always growing, not only in size but also in spirit and community. We are proud of the warmth and friendliness enjoyed by our members and guests. Our motto is that we are "small but mighty". You may enter our doors a stranger, but you will leave feeling as though you are part of the Temple Beth Shalom family.
If you live in the Fort Walton Beach or Destin area, we hope you will join Temple Beth Shalom us for worship or attend one of our classes. If you are visiting, please join us for our Shabbat worship, which is casual yet lively. Be prepared to sing!
Temple Beth Shalom was organized as an outgrowth of the Jewish Community Center of Okaloosa County during the summer of 1985. The following November, Temple Beth Shalom was granted a charter as a member congregation by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), now the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the organization supports many Reform Jewish congregations in North America.
Since then, our membership has steadily grown year after year.
In 1987, a section of the Fort Walton Beach Memorial Cemetery was designated for the use of the Jewish community. During a special ceremony, it was dedicated and consecrated as holy ground. During the interval between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a yearly Kever Avot Memorial Service is held here.
With the continued growth of the congregation, we added our educational wing in 1988, almost doubling the size of the Temple. During Hanukkah of 1998, we dedicated a major expansion that doubled the size of the educational wing, enhanced the sanctuary and library, expanded the kitchen, added a Rabbi's study and a children’s “quiet room”.
Want to know even more? The Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities tells our story dating all the way back to the 1800's here.
The purpose of the congregation is threefold. First, it strives to promote the enduring and fundamental principles of Judaism and ensure the continuity of the Jewish people. Furthermore, it enables its adherents to develop a relationship with G-d through communal worship, study and assembly. Finally, it strives to apply the principles of Reform Judaism to the values and conduct of the individual, family, and the society in which we live.
We are the only Reform Jewish congregation in Fort Walton Beach and its surrounding communities, but we are sensitive to the needs of members from ALL backgrounds as our membership reflects this diversity. Rituals, ceremonies and worship services are conducted in consonance with the western world and the 21st century, while at the same time retaining the essential traditions of our long and great heritage. Our services are based on a traditional mode of worship and are conducted in English, augmented with Hebrew prayers, and let us be sure to highlight the wonderful music often included in our various services here at Temple Beth Shalom. The URJ Mishkan T'Filah is used for all services except the High Holy Days, when we use the URJ Mishkan T'Shuvah.
Kabbalat Shabbat services are held every Friday evening @ 6:30 PM, followed by a warm & welcoming Oneg Shabbat. Our members often volunteer to prepare some of the most delicious meals and treats so come hungry. Most Saturdays @ 10 AM, we hold Torah Study, during which we read and discuss the week's Portion, its Haftarah, upcoming holidays, and varied topics of Jewish interest.
Casual dress is proper attire here at our synagogue for both Friday night services and Torah Study on Saturdays.
Our Rabbi and Cantorial Soloist/Music Director lead Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. One day of Rosh Hashanah is observed in concert with the Reform Movement. Yom Kippur services begin with an evening Kol Nidre service and continue the next day with morning and afternoon services followed by a Break-the-Fast dinner.
A Community Passover Seder, led by our Rabbi, is held each spring. See our events calendar found on our
In addition to regular Shabbat and holiday services, the Temple offers a Religious School for our children, a Jewish library for all ages, a monthly bulletin and Facebook page. Adult education includes both Torah/Tanach study, discussion and Hebrew lessons.
Social functions, coinciding with various Jewish Holidays, are held throughout the year. Members support an independent Hadassah chapter. We support the Jewish National Fund through tree purchases in Israel. The "Nite on the Town" dining out evening, discovering and enjoying the vast selection of cuisines in the area, is held approximately bi-monthly. Our Men's Breakfast Chavurah and Ladies' Luncheon Chavurah meet monthly for fellowship and discussion.
Through the generosity of the Steven Sandler family, a 'Holocaust' Torah, rescued by the Allies in 1945, was obtained through the Czech Memorial Scrolls Project of the Westminster Synagogue, London, UK. This Torah, which dates from the year 1800 C.E., previously belonged to a synagogue in Ledec, Bohemia, the Czech Republic, a community dating back to the 17th century. The Ledec Jewish community was liquidated by the Nazis in 1942. We remember the people of Ledec with a perpetual light on our memorial board and with a special Kaddish during Yom Kippur Yizkor.